Hi Duana!

We are expecting a baby girl in March and while we have some ideas, we haven't settled on one yet.

My husband is Indian and his last name starts with an M and ends with an A. I am generic white person (mix of European stuff), but I am 1/4 French Canadian and my last name (which I've kept) is French Canadian. Our daughter's middle name will be Katherine, in honor of my best friend who passed away after a long cancer battle five years ago.

A few rules we've established: since his last name ends with an A, I don't want the first name to end in an A since I don't like the way that sounds. Our kids will have my husband's last name, so we've agreed their first names will be Western, and I really like the idea of a French name as a nod to my heritage. 

On that note, we both like Simone and Aline a lot (I am leaning toward Aline). We had liked the name Miriam and were pretty settled on it earlier, but we realized it sounded bad with his last name which also starts with "Mi". 

I love the names you suggest, so I would love your help here! Or is Aline the winner and our work here is done?

Thank you!!!


Is your work here done? I mean, I’m tempted to say yes – Aline is a great name, it works with your surname and also satisfies your style concerns. But then… if you were done, would you have sent this note? 

I can confidently say, after years of writing this column, that the answer still might be ‘yeah, maybe’. That is, parents who think they might have landed on a perfect name and parents who feel utterly lost will question and revisit their name choices in equal measure, pretty much up until the point of no return. 

So I would have no problems telling you to go with Aline, or Simone, and call it job done, because there’s no reason you shouldn’t. I would have no guilt that I hadn’t done my job. Except, of course, that if you’re writing to me, I think what you’re looking for is “what are all the other names that we would also like?” and so I’m happy to oblige – whether or not the names I suggest actually trump Aline is up to you. 

So first things first – let’s talk about your name style. In addition to liking French names, it’s very clear that you like sleek names that end in consonants. I saw your point about names ending in ‘A’ not being a fit for you because of the rhymey/assonant quality with your surname, but also because there are French names that end in vowels, the Sylvies and Jolies and even names like Stephanie and Valerie, that obviously aren’t your bag. Which is great, it makes our task easier! 

Moving on…one thing I notice is the dominance of ‘n’ in the names you’ve chosen, not just in Simone and Aline, but obviously in Katherine as well. I don’t think that’s a problem at all, especially since ‘Katherine’ has both a lot of sounds that are arguably more ‘dominant’, and because you’re not always going to be using her first and middle together in daily use. But I did want to see what would happen if we went down a path with other endings… 

The first name that came to mind was Genevieve. I’ll fully admit that I far prefer the French pronunciation, even for a kid who’s never going to be among French speakers – the “Gen-Ah-VEEV” version (as in To All The Boys…) just seems like it’s unnecessarily undecorative. And I love the idea of Genevieve Katherine, because the rhythm of syllables goes so well together. Or something like Millicent, or Raphaelle, or Georgiane. 

But those are all longer and more decorative than the names you gave me as starting points, so you might want something simpler – in which case, you could also try something like Eloise, or Noelle or Camille or Giselle; all have that declarative quality that speaks to a name ending in a consonant without being a ‘hard stop’ feeling at the end. I also really like the names that fake us out on this front – Jacinthe or Blanche or Caprice are decorative but also surprisingly strong-feeling, without being all about an aggressive final consonant.

In fact, I’ll admit to sometimes skipping over the names that end in ‘ette’ because we’ve been conditioned to think of that suffix as a ‘girlification’ of all kinds of things (I’ve never gotten over being referred to as a ‘writerette’ early in my career, but you can bet I’ve come up with a million comebacks about it now that it’s too late for them to do me any good). But I’ll admit that when the double-t works, it really works, usually when there’s a lot of name up front to balance it – Antoinette and Lisolette and Yvette and of course, the perennial-but-perfect Juliet are great instances of this. 

And finally, you could think about the names that end in a vowel that isn’t A, in a way that might surprise you – Margot/Margeaux is, of course, the patron saint of this phenomenon, but Esme or Eugenie or Renee are all under this umbrella, too. 

So now… where are you at? Did anything thrill you, or feel like it was the name it didn’t know you were looking for? Then great, we’re good! If none of them begin to compare to Simone or Aline, though (with the obligatory inclusion of my favourites, Nadine and Ottoline) then guess what – you’re just that good, and you should Go and  Name in Peace! 

Let us know!